Day 18: Muscatine, IA to Cascade, IA (74.1 miles)

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Complimentary gas station ice cream.

We are using the Adventure Cycling Association maps to guide our way across the country, and, based on the description on the back of the map of this section, we knew the landscape was finally going to change today. It certainly did: we have hit increasingly more hills and, while the farms are still present, the look different.

We did well in the morning with the wind behind us, and, with the exception of a very gravelly detour, made good time to Lowden. We made a pit stop there with the intent to support a local business by continuing what we have been calling our Tour de Fries; that is, eating a ton of fries wherever we can find them. Unfortunately, portion sizes in Lowden did not satisfy our hunger, but we had to move on anyway. We are some granola and headed out. The roads were not so kind to us the rest of the day; cracked asphalt made for a bumpy ride and sore joints at the end of the day.

We got into Cascade not knowing what an adventure it would be. We stopped at a Subway across from the police station (where we had to check in in order to camp in the local park) and ate dinner. Then we headed to the grocery store to restock.

On the way, a driver, Pat, pulled over to talk to us about our trip. After he left, a second driver pulled over to talk to us about our trip. We finally got our shopping done, and, on the way out, the mayor of Cascade pulled over to talk to us about our trip. He also hands us $20 for a pizza. He leaves then pulls back around, takes the $20 back and hands us a $50, saying “You won’t be able to get anything with $20!” Thankful for his generosity, we jokingly wondered whether if we continued to stand on the corner, he would keep coming back with larger and larger amounts until we reached our fundraising goal.

In any case, we ate a second dinner of pizza, at which Pat then rejoined us for a longer chat. He had been a cyclist for a long time and had many stories to share. Before leaving he also gave us a donation to our cause and wished us well. It truly amazes us that people continue to be so generous and open to complete strangers. It definitely made us feel welcome in Cascade.

After second dinner we headed to our campsite for the night, next to the town baseball diamond. From the bleachers we watched our first Iowa sunset, and went to bed soon after. We awoke to storms blowing the tent around at 4am, but a quick check of the weather radar (thank you, wonders of modern technology) told us that it would soon pass. We quickly went back to sleep to rest up for the next day.

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